Fabric Painting and Design, Fashion, Uncategorized

The Hand-painted Dress

For years I’ve been wanting to translate my paintings into fabric. After I finished my BFA in Painting and Drawing at BYU, I filled out applications to all the coolest MFA textile design programs  in NYC (a place I’d always dreamed of living).  I had a blip in that application process that turned into me not actually submitting any of them, and instead going on to work as a display artist for an Anthropologie store outside Chicago.

Life takes on different paths and I firmly believe that God knows better than we do. Not going to those programs lead me to where I am today, with the experiences I’ve had.  Today, if you were watching my Instagram feed,  you’ll notice I unveiled the Sew Frosting project (in true dancing fashion!) I had been working on for weeks in “secret.” (I didn’t even reveal what my fabric looked like to my BFF until a few days ago!!)

What I’m getting at, is that even though I never became a textile designer, I continued making lots (and lots) of artwork and learning to sew, with certain people constantly telling me I needed to get my art on FABRIC!

In January of 2018 I made a list (inspired by Gretchen Ruben) of 18 things I wanted to accomplish in 2018 (that would make me happy). I put on there to finally make some fabric!! But it wasn’t until Kelli and Heather put out the “Sew Frosting” challenge that I finally set a deadline and MADE IT HAPPEN. (I love a good deadline/goal!)


The process, like all my paintings, was very organic. I started out with those tan blobs.  I was painting on a nice wool suiting fabric, so I was praying that it would work. Then I decided to add the blue lines… okay, it was working, I was liking it.. letting the brushstrokes sort of show and being okay with it looking like paint. Next came the “v” shapes and then it just felt like it needed something else. I let it lie for awhile and then came back and knew what it was missing! HOT PINK OF COURSE! Duh. #katiekortmanpink

Once I had the dress cut out I had more decisions to make!

 I only had so much of that wool to use for this project (it was gifted to me a year ago), and I ran out (hence the sleeves being pieced together as halves), so I had to add a band to the waist. There wasn’t enough fabric for the entire length of the bodice.

I had a pile of different colors that I thought would work with my painted fabric.  I had a pile of bias tape as well. You guys, I didn’t buy one single thing to make this dress. The pattern had been in my stash for awhile, the fabric was gifted, and the bias tape was in a pile that I keep for when the need arises! I laid out several combinations. 

For the waistband, I ran out of the teal tape that I used, and decided to use some of the florescent red-orange I had in my big bag of colorful tricks.. And then I sewed the thing up.

But you  know what? That striped band around my waist bothered me so much.  After days of being frustrated by it I realized I could just use the small strips I had left of that bottom fabric and appliqué it to the band!! YESSSSS!!!! And then I LOVED it. 

So that’s my Sew Frosting 2018 story of how my hand-painted dress came to be! The painting took around 15 (Im guessing more) hours to paint, and the sewing added onto that. It was a true labor of love. I found immense happiness in this project though, because I was melding my love of painting and my love of sewing into one really fun project!!! I WILL be doing this again.

*I used New Look Pattern DO593 to make the dress.

…..and one more photo, because I’m one of those people who has a hard time narrowing things down to just one or two!

15 thoughts on “The Hand-painted Dress

  1. Sue Young says:

    Aw…your dress is so pretty and playful! Sew Frosting for sure!

    Thanks for sharing your process. I too sew and make art…blog posts like this inspire me enormously!

    Happy you are blogging about your makes!

  2. Ashley says:

    I’m so excited to see your progress shots. I was trying to decide what the original fabric started out as. Block printing some fabric is on my sewing goals… Maybe even for new couch covers if I get real ambitious.

  3. katiekortman says:

    oh I need to check out your site! I love it when people do both!

  4. katiekortman says:

    I love your wordpress layout, do you know which one you’re using? There are a lot of things I don’t love about mine, and I just made it recently. Also you’re a crack up! I love all your posts!

  5. katiekortman says:

    Woah!!! that is ambitious but would be OUT OF THIS WORLD!!

  6. Love this so much! And your paintings are dreamy!! 😍😍😍😘😘😘

  7. Brooke says:

    Absolutely stunning and I loved the progress photos, coupled with the photos of the finished garment. So glad things worked out for you – it’s hard to know the future. Thank goodness that’s God’s prerogative, not ours! 🌈 x

  8. Aw thanks Katie.

    I’ve been struggling with blogging lately and your positive comment is encouraging!

    I am on wordpress.org and I have the Christine Theme from Themes Art Design. When I started blogging I was on the free Blogger platform. I switched over a couple of years ago to self-hosted for a number of reasons. None of the free templates were really singing to me. It was worth it to purchase one and it has a lot of ways to personalize it.

  9. Pingback: Painting Fabric
  10. Denise Syrett says:

    Katie! This dress just blows my mind up with happiness! The color combos, the bias taping, the gorgeous fabric pattern, oh my I can barely talk! The bias tape on the bodice is just such a fabulous finish. I just scrolled through your Instagram feed and realized that if I’m every feeling low, I need only take a whiff of your color/dance explosion pics and I’ll be quite alright immediately. Thank you so much for sharing your joy!

  11. katiekortman says:

    Oh my gosh thank you for such a sweet compliment!!! I am so happy my posts bring you joy, that’s what I feel when I make my clothes, dance and post about them!

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